Pennie Hunt: Spring Cleaning Is An Exercise In Release

Pennie Hunt writes: “It began with the junk drawers in the kitchen, then the food pantry, and now I am heart-deep in a storage closet of memories. It is the closet where all the plastic tubs live.”

Pennie Hunt

March 31, 20234 min read

Pennie Hunt and tubs

This has been harder than I thought it would be. I am not sure I thought this through. When I picked my word for the year it sounded like a great idea. 

My word is “release.” I wanted to “release” to find peace. 

I wanted to live in a clutter-free environment that feels peaceful. I wanted to be at peace with my health and body. From my closets to my heart and mind, I wanted to release things, thoughts and ideas that don’t serve me. I wanted plenty of space for peace.

This leads me to where I am today: my version of spring cleaning. 

I began over a month ago on this cleaning frenzy. It began with the junk drawers in the kitchen, then the food pantry, and now I am heart-deep in a storage closet of memories. It is the closet where all the plastic tubs live. 

These are tubs filled with baby books, blankets and home run baseballs from my children. Tubs filled with memories of my parents and my son. Tubs filled with my life – report cards, awards from past jobs and old resumes. 

All of these are currently arranged on an old bedsheet that spreads across my family room floor. The closet is almost empty and ready to be vacuumed and neatly restocked. I plan to only allow the most meaningful items to be returned to the closet. 

But this has been hard. 

The first problem is the amount of time it takes to look at things, to read papers, relive the memories, make the big decisions: throw away, donate or keep. 

Some are easy decisions. I really don’t need six copies of a newspaper article about me when I began a new job 25 years ago. I really don’t need to keep receipts of payment for every semester of college I paid for. Nor do I need the medical details of a surgery I had in 1995 – yes, I found that. My recycle/shred pile is large. 

It is the heart-throttling items that stop me. 

• My parent’s wedding book with stories of how they met and became engaged.

• My son’s hoodie covered in patches he collected and had me sew on like stickers on a piece of luggage that had traveled the world. 

• And a million photos of all the places I have been, the people I love, and this life I have lived. 

These slow me down, and my emotions work overtime insisting that I keep it all. The heck with releasing anything! 

Recently I watched a travel show where the host visited Finland. I have never been there, and it probably won’t ever be on my bucket list. 

One word from the show intrigued me and lodged in a wrinkle of my brain: “Sisu.” 

During the show, they roughly translated this Finish term to mean “strength of will, determination, perseverance and acting rationally in the face of adversity.” Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage.

I love a good word and love even more a great motivational concept. So of course, I have kept this in mind during my journey through the land of plastic tubs and memories. 

I have a clear vision of what this storage closet should and will look like when I am done. It will be a clutter-free, organized space that brings me peace. 

I will continue with sustained courage to wade through every memory. I will use my strength of will to make decisions about what means the most to me. What needs to be tucked safely back into its tub for me to occasionally look at and enjoy. What needs to be thrown away or donated. What I can share with others, giving them the joy of owning it.

To me, the energy of sisu means that I am going to do everything possible to get it done, whatever the task is before me. Right now, that is releasing. I will release to find peace.

Next up, my clothes closet and the 80 pairs of shoes I own. The releasing will continue.

Pennie’s Life Lesson: It takes sustained courage to look at your life and decide what needs to be released to open a space of peace.

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